“It sounds like this has been quite traumatic for you,”
I can’t describe the relief I felt as she said that. I’ve been struggling with a crazy mix of sadness, relief, misery, anger, happiness and basically everything else since last fall when one of my closest friends of nearly ten years told me, over the phone, that she didn’t want to be in my life anymore.
The breakup, as I call it, is really painful to talk about, and all of the events that lead up to it are painful to talk about. Honestly, like 40% of that relationship is painful to talk about and the good memories are sometimes even worse.
It started with a string of text messages and ended with an obligatory phone call, which lasted a while but felt like it only took an instant. I was baffled, busy, and honestly fucking exhausted. After ten years of friendship, all I felt like I could say was, “you know what? I’m not going to fight you on this. Just know that I disagree, I love you, and I’ll always be there for you. But if this is what you really want, this is what you’re getting. I am not going to argue this right now.”
I actually took that call from the airport, because I was headed on a business trip. I was gone for that whole weekend, so it was almost like none of it happened until I got home and actually had time to think about my life. At that point I think I figured that, worst-case scenario, she would get engaged someday and then she’d come back and we could have a real, two-sided conversation.
Fast-forward to her engagement. I found out about it through a dear mutual friend who didn’t want me to discover via social media – they knew it would kill me. I thought there was a chance she would text me the good news herself, but that text never came.
I tried to explain the whole story of our relationship in a 50 min therapy appointment and obviously couldn’t quite do that, but I got through enough. And the one sentence back from her eased my mind so much. It was traumatic for me.
Explaining this story to someone who hasn’t lived through any of it with me is such an odd experience. I’ve always been a quality over quantity person when it comes to friends. The people who have been in that circle for a long time were relieved when the relationship ended, the people who entered my life in the past three years never really understood the relationship in the first place. Telling the story of that last year, moment by moment, to a neutral party truly helped me see it more clearly.
Now, I know it is over and that I really want it to be. Despite how painful it still is to relive, it is the best bad thing that has happened to me. What haunts me the most now is the fact that I never stood up for myself. I didn’t get to say my piece and that lingers with me like a weight. This is it:
For 10 years, I have bent over backwards for you. Going out of my way to ensure you’re happy, comfortable, feeling included.
I have brought you around new friends, who have also gone out of their way to make sure you are happy, comfortable, and feel included.
I have been careful with my words, used a zillion exclamation points, and allowed short, one-word, rude answers to me and any of these friends. I’ve defended your behavior to people who were turned off, overcompensating for your discomfort to ensure you were invited again.
I did all of this without asking for much back, because I love you. And when I did ask for something back it’s because I reached a true breaking point.
Eventually, being in my own home caused me anxiety. It was as if I was never spending my time the right way for you. I was always away too much for work or spending too much time with someone else. I felt like I owed you 1000xs more than I owed anyone else and certainly than you owed me. But I did it, because I love you.
I made a conscious choice in 2016. I made the choice to stop going so far out of my way for your comfort. I made the choice to prioritize myself and to require you to do some of your own emotional heavy lifting.
You punished me. It was drawn out, hurtful, and, as it turns out, traumatic.
The universe in your mind, where I didn’t care about you coming to my birthday party, where I went out all the time with my fun friends and only wanted to do boring stuff with you, where I wouldn’t care about your grandma’s death, it’s not a real place.
The real universe? It’s where I carefully worded that I wasn’t even going to have a birthday party because people were busy, and where I never actually did have one. It’s one where I still go out like once every 3 months, and I lived for TV, cooking and craft, or movie dates with you because you love those things as much as me. It’s one where I didn’t know what to do when she passed, because you didn’t tell me, I found out on Instagram, and I thought you were mad at me.
The real universe right now? One where I have people in my life who love me for what I am and what I have to offer, and don’t expect more than I can give. Where people in my life don’t take their insecurities out on me. One where I still don’t really go out. One where I’ve barely gone to the movies since you left, and I know it’s because it makes me miss you and it hurts too much. One where I still don’t post exclusively fun pictures with friends on my Instagram. One where you’ve broken my heart more than I ever thought humanly possible by anyone and the thought of you makes me the most intense combination of sad and sick.
I wish you the best of luck. I hope you get all of the Instagrammed friend-hangs and all of the fun, public girls nights out that I apparently couldn’t give you. I hope it is all worth someone else being the maid of honor at your wedding.
Most of all, I really hope you miss me. Because you should, and for a minute I let myself forget that.